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Dynamic American City, The (Part II)

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Dynamic American City, The (Part II)

Published ca. 1956

Advocates urban redevelopment and renewal, 1950s-style. Supports many planning strategies which are criticized today: the destruction of "blighted" neighborhoods in the name of progress, autocentric planning and construction, and suburban sprawl.

Run time 14:21
Producer Baskaw (Frederick J).
Sponsor Chamber of Commerce of the United States
Audio/Visual Sd, C


There could be no better film than this to show how old, character-filled neighborhoods in cities across the nation were wantonly destroyed during the "new is better" 1950s. The term used was "URBAN RENEWAL". Cities across the United States are shown, in old, established residential
and business districts of great charm, and new, "urban renewal"-inflicted areas of equally great ugliness; the camera keeps cutting from some beautiful old Victorian structure to some drab, ugly 50s utilitarian structure which served as it's inferior replacement. Some good shots of 50s cars on urban streets; an especially good one contrasts 50s automobiles with a turn of the century horse-drawn bakery wagon of Boston ("Albert Duplain - French Bakers") in a wistful juxtaposition of eras. Rare footage of interurban streetcars / trolleys rolling through semi-rural areas; charming Victorian looking railroad station for "Ant Hill". Freeways. Traffic. Dams.
Suburban sprawl: sign on undeveloped tract reads "Coming Soon: FOOD FAIR
Supermarket"; then, another sign for W.T. Grant dime store. New construction; suburban
corporate headquarters are shown amid greenery. New shopping centers, the concrete barely dry. Good CUs of Victorian architectural detail; then, of course, old buildings being demolished for 50s steel and glass structures. Wrecking balls destroying old structures. Excellent shots of 1950s parking garages. Hotels, motels.

¥ 11:42:00- 11:42:09
Long shot of densely packed apartment buildings and some skyscrapers in Boston from a busy highway outside the city.

¥ 11:42:10- 11:42:18
Overview of densely packed area in San Francisco - looks like the Sunset District.

¥ 11:42:31- 11:42:44
Great pan of identical red brick row houses lined up on a city street (Baltimore or Philadelphia-?). They are nicely set against the sky and look as though they go on forever.

¥11:43:01- 11:43:10
Nice shot of fancy Pacific Heights block from the top of a steep hill looking down at a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

¥ 11:43:46- 11:43:55
Wealthy East Coast neighborhoodÑa horse drawn carriage moves along a busy city road lined with fancy buildings (homes-?).

¥ 11:44:20- 11:44:40
Pan up an extremely old, fancy 24-story apartment building in a wealthy city neighborhood (Boston, New York-?). After the camera pans up there's a cut to the very top of the building set against the bright blue sky.

¥ 11:44:43- 11:45:13
Nice pan up a wealthy city homeÑas the camera pans we see how short this house is in comparison to the tall buildings on either side. This creates an air and light shaftÑinterseting image of the odd space between buildings.

¥ 11:45:14- 11:45:28
An old, tall, stone home (it looks like a church) stands above industrial buildings creating an interesting contrast.

¥ 11:45:57- 11:46:16
Great shot of plain, square apartment buildings (converted stables) along a New York City streetÑabove these, we see an excellent view of skyscrapers. Nice contrast between the dark apartment buildings and the shiny, silver skyscrapers.

¥ 11:46:32- 11:46:43
A commuter train pulls into (or away from) a city stationÑwe see buildings nearby, but the station seems to lie on the outskirts of town.

¥ 11:46:44- 11:46:56
Interesting shot of train moving through semi-industrial outskirts of a city. There are green hills and a white house peculiarly perched atop an inclination.

¥ 11:47:01- 11:47:17
Nice image of trolley cars moving along tracks in what looks like a rural setting.

¥ 11:47:36- 11:47:51
Good shot of cars zooming towards a city (San Francisco) from complicated highway loopsÑnice partial view of the skyline.

¥ 11:48:07- 11:48:19
Traffic inches along what looks like an L.A. freewayÑlow, brown hills in the distance and some development along the highway.

¥ 11:48:31- 11:48:40
Very beautiful image of a power plant built into brown, rocky mountainsideÑwe view electrical towers and the top of the stone power plant.

¥ 11:48:54- 11:49:23
Great image of housing development. Starts with view of what looks to be a rural area, then pans over for us to see acres of identical, insubstantial, small houses (lower income suburbs-?).

¥ 11:49:26- 11:49:49
Good montage of new shopping developments in suburban areas. Starts with pan of long brown department store to a pan of a shopping area being built to a fancier looking strip with a deaprtment store and more.

¥ 11:50:09- 11:50:18
Very good shot of a "W.T. Grant & Co." billboard in the middle of an open field.

¥ 11:50:18- 11:50:26
Great image of a stone hotel (it is mostly a parking lot) on the side of the highway in the desert. A billboard of a man waving people over is next to it.

¥ 11:51:10- 11:51:25
Two shots of shopping centers. The first is fancy with a landscaped circle where cars drive around and pick up shoppers, and in the second we only view the large parking area.

¥ 11:53:20- 11:53:44
A demolition hammer plunges against a stone building again and again until knocks a piece off. Intereseting contrast between crisp, blue sky and dust and concrete.

¥ 11:53:46- 11:54:00
Good shot of demolition of an old mansion.

¥ 11:54:16- 11:54:36
Nice slow pan of a triple-decker, roofless parking lot.

¥ 11:54:36- 11:54:43
A car enters an underground parking lot.

¥ 11:54:51- 11:55:01
Concentric, downtown San Francisco parking garage which says "Self Parking."

¥ 11:55:25- 11:56:38
Nice shot of the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego. There is a cut to the gaudy, neon El Cortez Motel sign across the street.

¥ 11:55:58- 11:56:14
Slow pan of large, concrete department store (Meyer and Frank Store) in Salem, OregonÑthe store occupies an entire block.

¥ 11:56:21- 11:56:49
Great pan of residential area in Kansa City ("Quality Hill") near downtownÑa middle class area with small homes, row houses, and apartment buildings. The skyline stands behind them.

¥ 11:52:02- 11:58:16
Great pan across tall buildings behind burned out row houses.

¥ 11:58:54- 11:59:06
Two shots of shiny, steel skyscrapers from extremely low angles.

¥ 11:59:29- 11:59:56
Good pan of a New York City streetÑpans up and across old apartment buildings next to newer apartment and office buildings. The Empire State Building is in the background.

¥ 12:00:23- 12:00:35
Great shot in St. Louis of a sign stating "Plaza Redevelopment Project" in the foregroundÑbehind it are two tall buildings, one new and one old.

¥ 12:00:38- 12:00:48
Nice shot of an empty lot with a city behind it.

¥ 12:02:11- 12:02:41
Good shot of Main Street in a small city (Columbia, Indiana) which is undergoing some modern renovation (there's a new bank)

¥ 12:03:06- 12:03:31
Nice pan up Wrights's bizarre Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

¥ 12:04:28- 12:04:46
Great pan of an entire strip of buildings being demolished in Columbus, Ohio. Sturdy buildings stand in the background.


Reviewer: Skins222 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 15, 2010
Subject: Appreciation comes with time.
This movie reflects the "out with the old in with the new" attitude that prevailed during the 1950's and part of the 60's. Things like landmarks, old ornate Victorian design, and other things we have come to appreciate, cherish, and preserve nowadays were considered "old and ugly and obsolete" back then. Modern, streamlined designs were considered the way to go. The automobile was becoming ever popular and man strove to accommodate it. Flash forward to the present and it's kind of ironic how, decades later we have come to appreciate the older architecture and we now seek to preserve it. Over the decades we have learned that the automobile was not the godsend that it was once thought to be and, with the automobile came a plethora of problems, including pollution, climate change, dependence on oil, etc. Likewise, even some of the "efficient modern" buildings that replaced the "old, ugly and obsolete" structures in the 1950's have themselves become "old, ugly, and obsolete", many have even fallen to the wrecking ball themselves while some of the older buildings still remain. It's interesting how, sometimes we have to lose a chunk of the past before we come to appreciate the aesthetic beauty, charm, and value of what once was. Thank God not all was destroyed during this era of "out with the old" and many of our beautiful old structures still remain and are preserved to this day. Thankg God for landmark preservation.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 10, 2003
Subject: Tear down old buildings! Make new parking lots!
This okay film about the merits of urban sprawl, poopoos any meaning of the word "preservation" or "landmark building" to makeway for office buildings, shopping malls and of course, lots of parking lots. Introduced in the most bizarre way by representative of the "National Chamber, an organization deeply interested in your problens". This introduction is REALLY badly written, with "city" repeated like 50 times, somewhat inappropiately. From there, we get a little history of what makes a city grow, the film doesnt really kick in until the 2nd half where the narrator kicks in what makes cities great! No preservation needed here folks!
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